Kitchen Garden

Apple Harvest 2019

Apple tree viewed from top of a ladder.

The view from atop the ladder was pretty good.

Monday I began harvesting Red Delicious apples from a tree planted on Earth Day 1995. This tree outlasted three others planted the same day.

Tuesday I completed a 350 pound donation to Local Harvest CSA, which has been my go-to outlet when there is an apple abundance. I kept three crates for the kitchen and many apples remain on the tree. Naturally, the best apples are furthest up and hardest to get. They don’t seem to be dropping like Earliblaze did so there is a chance to pick more… a lot more.

The question is always the same: what to do with the abundance? In the past I felt it important to use every apple possible. As a result of such compulsive cookery the pantry is well stocked with canned apple sauce and apple butter. I may can a batch of seven quarts of applesauce this year to refresh the stock rotation, but don’t really need it. With my current concerns about blood glucose levels, applesauce isn’t a go-to option for dessert even if I enjoy it.

Baked goods is an option. 2019 is busier than most years in politics so there are plenty of outlets for apple crisp, applesauce cakes and apple pies, including the county party’s annual fall fundraising barbecue. I can’t make it to the barbecue because of my work schedule but I’ll send in desserts for 24 or 36 people. I’ll also send an apple crisp to the Elizabeth Warren office in the county seat. We don’t eat much in this category, but at least one apple crisp will be for us as well as a celebratory applesauce cake.

This year I plan to dry more apples than usual. As a snack, dried apples are very sweet and something different. I have an old Ronco dehydrator purchased for a buck at a yard sale. It can dry a batch in a day or two.

I offered free apples to neighbors on our private Facebook page. I’ll fill any orders that come in on Friday. I’ll share with folks in town if they ask.

The bumper crop makes me wish we had a cider press. I’ll produce about two gallons of apple juice for additional apple cider vinegar making, but that work with a household juicer is too labor intensive to process all the apples. Maybe I can process a batch of seven quarts of sweet cider for special occasions.

When Johnny Appleseed planted his orchards, he did it for hard cider for settlers. My fermentation is to the vinegar stage, and for now I stay away from the hard stuff. That is, unless a gallon jug sits in the ice box too long and begins conversion of sugar to alcohol on its own. I’ll drink that. I’ve gotten to a place where I prepare our salad dressings using vinegar made in our pantry.

Living an apple life is pretty good. Maybe as good as it gets. It is work — the joyful kind. Thus far I’m nimble enough to scale the ladder and take in in the view for a moment before picking fruit. Apples are a way of dealing with life’s problems and an opportunity for self-improvement. I believe I’ll plant more trees next spring.